What’s Causing Your Gums to Look White?

image of a patients upper lip being lifted with a dental tool so the doctor can look at her white gums

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Everyone loves a bright white smile, but what does it mean when the gums are white in Jacksonville, FL.? While people typically visit the dentist for their teeth, the health of the gums is just as important for good oral hygiene. If a person’s gums are looking white or puffy, it often means something is amiss with their oral health and it’s essential to see a doctor for a proper diagnosis.


What Causes White Gums?

Healthy gums are pink in color. From simple canker sores to anemia and serious inflammatory illnesses, there are several conditions that can cause a person’s gums to turn white in Jacksonville, FL.

Smoking, chewing tobacco, drinking, and basically anything that could cause irritating friction in the mouth, such as rough teeth, dentures, or uneven fillings and crowns, can lead to what is known as leukoplakia.

What Is Leukoplakia?

If white patches appear on the gums, tongue, the base of the mouth, and/or inside the cheeks, the medical term for those spots is leukoplakia. Leukoplakia cannot remove them with a toothbrush and though they are not usually painful, they may be sensitive to the touch or to certain foods, especially those that are hot or spicy.

Leukoplakia on the gums tends to be thicker than the gum tissue around them. They can also harden over time.

Tooth extraction or teeth whitening process can also cause a person’s gums to appear white. Other conditions that can cause white gums to include:


Anemia is usually caused by vitamin B12 and iron deficiencies. It can also be a sign of celiac or Crohn’s disease. A change in diet and vitamin supplements are typically used to manage these conditions.

Canker sores:

Canker sores are painful lesions that develop on the gums or inside of the mouth. Common treatment includes saltwater rinses, oral ointments, or steroids.


Gingivitis is a mild form of gum disease that can cause irritated and swollen gums as well as recession. Regular dental hygiene care is the best way to deal with periodontal issues.

Oral Thrush:

Oral thrush typically affects babies, older adults, and diabetics. As it is caused by a yeast infection, an antifungal medication may be prescribed for treatment.

The Dangers Of Oral Cancer

The growing threat of cancer in people’s lives can threaten how they go through their lives. Whilst white gums do not mean a patient necessarily has cancer, this could be one indicator to keep an eye out for oral cancer. In the case it is cancer, it would appear as white patches throughout the mouth.

Because people have many different structures in the mouth, knowing what symptoms to look for can be difficult. Generally speaking, there are some symptoms that are present through the variations of oral cancer. Those symptoms are:

  • A lip or mouth sore that does not heal
  • Loose teeth
  • A growth or lump inside your mouth
  • Mouth pain
  • Ear pain
  • Tooth pain
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Tooth and/or jaw sensitivity

As mentioned earlier, oral cancer is one of many possibilities for white gums, they are not a guarantee. That being said, it is important to keep this in mind to protect the mouth against the issues related to oral cancer.

Preventing White Gums

To avoid the stress and worry of having white gums in Jacksonville, FL, finding effective ways to prevent them is key to healthy gums. Generally, keeping with good oral hygiene and avoiding certain foods will help.

Getting more specific though, brushing teeth is one key factor in avoiding white gums. Brushing regularly and properly is important, keeping the brush at a 45-degree angle and not pushing too hard is also very necessary for healthy gums and teeth.

Flossing teeth properly is also important. Getting well within the grooves of the teeth can help prevent infection and white gums. Keeping up with flossing a few times a day, two or three, is also important to maintaining good gum and tooth health.

Of course, avoiding tobacco products is also important. Tobacco products are one of the biggest causes of white gums, mouth infections, and oral cancer. Breaking habits can be challenging but is critical for maintaining good health.

Lowering the intake of sugary and acidic foods will also help people’s gums. Living in the United States, there are so many foods that add sugars and acids which are horrible on the teeth and gums. That’s because these foods can destroy the gums and teeth which can cause all sorts of issues including white gums.


Get Your White Gums Examined

If you are concerned about your white gums, it may be best to have them looked at by a professional. The most serious cause of white gums is oral cancer, which can quickly spread. The Oral Cancer Foundation estimates that nearly 60,000 people will be diagnosed with the disease in 2019.

Your dentist can check for growths, sore lumps, or thickening of the skin inside the mouth. If you have a long-term sore throat or notice mouth sores that are slow to heal, don’t wait. Get in contact with our doctors Dr. Richard Caven, Dr. Shelby Denman, and Dr. Stephen Carpenter in our Caven Dental Group office to schedule an appointment today!

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